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4 Types of Structural Steel That You Need to Know About

While structural steel is pretty much commonplace in many construction projects, some people still don’t know much about it. One important thing to remember when it comes to structural steel is that it actually comes in multiple different types. This may be rather confusing for some people, especially if you know close to nothing about structural steel. To help simplify things, we thought it would be useful to put together a brief article about this subject. If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about, read on as we discuss the four different types of structural steel that you need to know about.


These steel beams are available in a variety of lengths and sizes, and have an L-shaped profile. The two steel legs that come together at a 90-degree angle can be of equal or unequal length. For example, an unequal angle steel beam might have one leg that is 6x2x0.5, and another leg that is 3x2x0.5. This type of beam is often used in floor systems because it has a reduced structural depth but an enhanced strength-to-weight ratio. Steel beams of this type are commonly used in infrastructure, residential buildings, mining, and transport applications.


These steel beams are most commonly used in construction projects in order to support large structures. Standard or “S” beams are the most basic of the three shapes and are usually the cheapest to produce. Wide flange or “W” beams are more expensive but offer more support. Pile or “H” beams are the most expensive but provide the most support. “T” beams are a hybrid of the other three types and are typically used when a project requires both extra support and a lower price tag.

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S-beams have a tapered flange, while W-beams have a parallel flange. H-beams, or universal beams, resemble the letter H when standing upright. These steel beams are commonly used in construction and engineering and can be up to 60 feet in length.

T beams are similar to I beams but lack a bottom flange. The top of the T beam is a flange that is connected to a vertical web. T beams are mostly used as load-bearing sections but have a disadvantage in some applications.

Bearing Piles

Construction workers and engineers use bearing piles to create a deeper foundation system when they are unable to find or create a strong enough foundation on the worksite. Bearing piles are H-shaped steel pieces that are designed to effectively transfer loads through the pile to the tip. They are extremely durable and efficient, able to bear more than a thousand tonnes of weight. Bearing piles work best in densely packed soil, as they offer more resistance at the tip. Common types of bearing piles include h-piles, screw piles, pipe piles, and disc piles.


Channels are long metal beams with a flat side that can be attached to other flat surfaces. They are often used in construction, especially for bridges, but they have many other uses. Channels come in different sizes, but the most common size is 20-40 feet long.


We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you gain a better understanding of the different types of structural steel that are used for construction. While this may seem like a lot to take in all at once, this article should be enough to give you good foundational knowledge on this subject.

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KGS Steel is a family-owned and operated steel distribution company and service center that’s been serving clients since 1985. We offer a full line of carbon steel products in multiple processing facilities, including Bessmer, AL, and Nashville, TN. If you’re looking for a reliable steel distributor in Birmingham, KGS Steel is the company to look for. For more information, visit our website today!

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